Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Last Sunday I attended a NANOWRIMO Write In. The concept of writing socially was intriguing. I am so glad I went for a number of reasons:

1. I met new people who had interesting things to say about the process.

2. New plot twists appeared unbidden as did a new character. This happened naturally without even dipping into the many and varied challenges that are available at a write in.

3. The numbers on the word count increased dramatically.

4. They gave me presents.

Take a look at these presents:

Plot ninja – for new plots and Skull and cross bones eraser – a reminder not to erase

Emergency plot elements  and Emergency new character – just open and add water

NANOWRIMO pocket guide

NANOWRIMO sticker and teabag – for relaxation and to keep me awake!

Is it worth the time to go to a write in or would it make more sense to stay home, use the travel time to write and concentrate without interruptions? I will definitely attend another write in. The inspiration and companionship is well worth the time traded.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I read this morning that I should be up to 36,000 words by the end of tomorrow to be on track! Oh my. Well, I pumped out a little more than 1,000 words after reading that, so I’m up to 19,000 words now. I’ve been to Starbuck’s and I am caffeinated and ready to get to work.

I know some people hold to the idea that you shouldn’t go back and read. The idea is to just get it all on paper. I am at the point, however, when I need to go back and see the whole so I can understand where I am going. I have to find the places which need filling out. This is my task today. I don’t know if it will help me pump out word count today, but I find that I can produce a decent amount of work if I know where to start. It is very similar to cooking. If I have a menu plan, I have little difficulty in coming home and preparing it. If, however, I have to root around the kitchen hoping an idea will pop out and grab me, that is when I find it difficult to succeed.

I have a plan. Now I hope for inspiration and concentration.

Friday, November 13, 2009


NANOWRIMO has been a truly awe inspiring experience. For some time I have thought that it would be interesting to try my hand at writing a novel. Those thoughts stayed up in my head. Occasionally there would be someone with whom I could share those unexplored thoughts. Did I ever sit down and test the dream? Not really. I found I enjoyed writing for publication and the research process had a grip on me, but actually working on a novel, it just never happened.

NANOWRIMO has changed everything about this dream. I started out with an idea. I came up with the idea on my morning commute. It was an idea born of duress. The commitment had been made to the process...I had to find something to write about. That evening I came home and started pounding the keys. It was shocking to find that the characters were recalcitrant. They did not stay in the boxes I had created for them. They became living, breathing entities with minds of their own. I cannot imagine where they came from. That this book could be written is something I do not doubt. That it is being written by me is nothing less than astounding.

I find that as I have embraced this process I feel more lively and alive. I get more excited about things. I'm having fun.

More than that, I find the way I approach teaching students about the books we read in the library has dramatically changed. I have always stressed that they may some day write a book which will be in our library, the committment to viewing ourselves as authors and illustrators has deepened. I find that students seem to be connecting more deeply with the material and I do too. This process has enhanced my library program in unexpected ways.

I am using my SONY IC Recorder to take snapshots of my ideas on my commute. Least you think I'm holding it while driving, let me tell you my technique. I do not talk on my cell phone while driving, so I had to find a technique for this. I either pull over and make the recording before resuming driving or, I tuck the recorder into my safety belt near my neck. I reach out and touch the red button and can talk for quite a while. Then I press the button again. If I miss, it's no big deal. I know I have succeeded when I hear the beep. Upon arriving home it is easy to replay the tape player and type it into my work.

All in all, NANOWRIMO is an event I would highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in writing a novel. It's not easy to keep at it, but it is a transformation experience which I am glad I embraced.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Digital Native Reality Check

Today I witnessed a scene which I will not find easy to forget. Three boys who looked to be around ten years old, exiting a digital art class exclaimed "Oh, since Internet Explorer 7 came out I can't get any of it to display correctly." The others chimed in about their thoughts regarding an array of software technicalities which I could just follow. Ten years old and talking like software designers in their twenties!

What does that say about what we must do to keep these boys engaged in the arena of mandatory education? They are already solving problems, using 21st Century Skills, applying what they learn to create products. When they are now asked to create power point slide shows of something they have already learned in class over the course of several years, how excited will they be? How excited would we be in the same set of circumstances?

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking back on my youth and feeling that adding a bit of technology would make a project more interesting. Students today are more saavy than that. Dangling the opportunity to incorporate simple technology into their lessons is hardly that motivating to them. We really need to ramp it up a bit if we are to capture their interest.

Where I really see the role of the School Library Media Specialist really making an impact is in helping youth in putting the package together. Making sure that the medium is not stealing the spot light from the message.

Regardless, I feel new pressure to keep up with technology, to find new ways to harness not just the technology for the wow effect, but also as a seamless vessel for the message.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Reading Paula Yoo's blog a couple of days ago I found out about NANOWRIMO. Short for National Novel Writing Month, NANOWRIMO encourages folks to write a novel in the month of November. The focus is not on perfection or editing, rather the point is to write intensively. Despite all the other things I am doing and the fact that I really don't have time, I decided to sign up and give it a go. I may not meet the goal of completing a 50,000word novel, but I'm pretty sure that I will write more than I would otherwise.